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Seasonal Affective Disorder: Natural Ways to Ward Off Winter Blues

Kyra Mesich

Kyra Mesich

If you find that winter hits you hard, and you struggle with symptoms like depression, irritability and fatigue throughout the cold months, you are nowhere near alone. Many people are in the same boat and have found the following natural approaches to be extremely helpful for keeping body and spirit up throughout the winter.

Light Therapy

There are several kinds of therapeutic lights, from full spectrum white lights to blue or green lights. With so many choices, it can be confusing to figure out what may work best for you. A 2006 study from Thomas Jefferson University Center of Integrative Medicine concluded that blue LED light therapy showed promise as an effective treatment for seasonal depression. The primary benefit of blue light therapy vs. other types of lights is convenience: the blue light therapy unit is very portable and only need shine in your eyes indirectly for 15-30 minutes per day. The key is to use the light every morning.


The Finns know exactly what they are doing with their ancient tradition of sauna. Despite reduced physical activity level during the winter, regular use of a sauna enhances the cardiovascular system and may preserve muscle function, according to a recent study from the University of Iowa’s Physical Therapy & Rehab Science Department. There are two types of saunas: conventional dry saunas that warm the air and infrared saunas that warm objects. Both have beneficial effects.

Flower Essence Therapy

Flower essences are energetic remedies made from the flowers of various plants and trees. Because the name sounds similar to essential oils used in aromatherapy, people tend to confuse the two, but flower essence therapy is a unique type of energy medicine in a class all its own. Calix: International Journal of Flower Essence Therapy has published several studies which demonstrate the effectiveness of flower essence therapy in the treatment of depression. Taking a remedy that holds the energy of a summer flower in bloom is a unique gift to give yourself during the winter.

Vitamin D Supplementation

According to findings in Archives of Internal Medicine, the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. has increased dramatically. Although there may not be much in the way of scientific study to directly link Vitamin D levels to seasonal depression, medical science has found Vitamin D receptors throughout the body. The journal Genome Research has even identified over 200 genes that Vitamin D directly influences. Vitamin D plays a huge role in our overall health that is yet to be fully understood. However, it is well established that the major source of Vitamin D is skin exposure to sunlight. You can have your Vitamin D level checked by a simple blood test at your doctor’s office. Then you will know if a Vitamin D capsule is sufficient for you or if you actually have a deficiency and may need a higher prescribed dosage.

Kyra Mesich, PsyD has a doctoral degree in psychology and has studied extensively in the field of holistic health. She is author of The Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide. Dr. Kyra sees clients in Edina and at Sirona Spring Natural Health in Hudson, Wisconsin. For more information and to make an appointment, call 612-568-3538, email, or visit

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